Our invitation to a final round on the Karsten ASU Golf Course brought a grateful sigh – one last chance to play Pete Dye’s course. General Manager Derek Crawford greeted us with his normal charm, “Thanks for coming out to play, really, thank you.” We replied teary eyed, “We appreciate the invitation, but we might cry.” “You won’t be the first.” But truly, two of the last. This was personal.
The pro shop seemed stark with a small shelf of gloves, a pair of Jack Grace shoes, a few shirts and hats remaining. Karsten was one of our first customers with the Butthead Covers business. Then coach Melissa Lewellyn asked us to create an upside-down Sparky for her ASU girls’ golf team. That resulted in a full rack of Sparkys kicking it up by the clubhouse entry door. They sold like hot cakes. We reminisced about how fun that was with Dianne, the merchandiser, that is, until her boss Becky decided she didn’t want any types of covers at all in the shop. Oh well, we laughed nostalgically. Dianne had just marked the final goods down to 75% off and said she’ll take a year off before deciding what’s next.
PGA Pro Joey plans on just a month off before hitting the market for his next position. He has registered tons of golfers and improved their games with lessons over the years. We named the upside-down kangaroo after him.
Linda Vollstedt, LPGA pro, Hall of Famer, former ASU coach and Athletic Director gave us hugs and shared, “It’s bittersweet isn’t it?” Yes, so many memories of rounds with friends long gone, junior golf events and tournaments won and lost. Linda, you sure raised a lot of stars here, among them, Heather Farr who lost her life to breast cancer at an early age. A statue of Heather long stood by the ten tee box. After 30 years Linda is still at ASU part time. “They call me an ambassador.”
LPGA pro Kerry Graham was in the house stirring up memories of the LPGA pro tournaments in the valley and fun times including a dinner with Lyle Anderson and Kathy Whitworth, the winningest professional golfer of all times. Kerry will carry on giving lessons at Papago Golf Club, new home to the ASU teams.
Many ASU golfers joined the pro ranks, none more famous than Phil Mickelson who partnered on the design of the new practice area at Papago Golf Club. State of the art equipment combine with a lounge atmosphere with all the snacks needed to set the optimum state of mind for the collegians to study and perform athletically. The City of Phoenix, Arizona State University and the Arizona Golf Community Foundation stepped in to step up the game at Papago Golf Course. Papago was a municipal course with a trailer for the pro shop for many years. Now it has a beautiful shop and a gorgeous resort style patio setting. Lou’s Bar and Grill is a gathering place for golfers and non-golfers alike with live music and great food. Specials include #Foodie Friday.
Dye’s course design at Karsten was a hit for 30 years. 9 and 18 paralleled each side of a long lake challenging all. On the final day the water level was substantially lowered to reveal hundreds of balls peeking out of the mud like ghosts of rounds past yet right up until that very end, Derek’s team maintained excellent course conditions. Papago might not have as many distinguished holes, but the layout routing and conditioning have been improved. Indubitably more golf moments will form memories for locals, visitors and ASU students, sure to advance as PGA and LPGA winners.
Derek is joining his brother Daryl at Papago along with Heather’s relocated statue. The Crawford twins under the umbrella of OB Sports management will run it right and confuse a lot of people mixing them up along the way. Farewell Karsten, welcome new Papago!
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